The Chicago White Sox built a bullpen to maintain leads. But through three games, the White Sox are 1-2 after a 5-3 loss to the Angels on Saturday because of their inability to hold onto leads.
Yermín Mercedes became the first player in the modern era (since 1900) to begin a season with eight straight hits, but that historic accomplishment will be somewhat overshadowed by Anthony Rendón, Jared Walsh and Justin Upton combining for three-quarters of a team cycle against Evan Marshall in the Angels’ eighth-inning comeback.
Marshall froze Mike Trout on a high curveball for an inning-opening strikeout, but Rendón started the rally with a single in the next at-bat. Walsh tripled home Rendón to tie the game, 3-3, and Upton put the finishing touches on a disastrous inning with a two-run blast to left field. Marshall left pitches over the plate, and it cost the White Sox in the form of a 106.5-mph missile off of Upton’s bat.
The blown lead came after Garrett Crochet tossed a perfect 2 1⁄3 relief innings, including three strikeouts as he relied on his slider more often (35% of his pitches) and a fastball that touched 98.9 mph rather than 101 mph.
In his White Sox debut, Lance Lynn got ahead of batters often — he threw 13 first-pitch strikes to the first 15 batters he faced — but only lasted 4 2⁄3 innings, with a pitch count quickly rising to 99 pitches due to an inconsistent strike zone, six strikeouts (including Trout twice) and two walks. He often went deep into counts, but limited damage enough that he should’ve left the game with a 2-0 lead instead of in a tie game.
The White Sox’s fielding woes hit a new low when Luis Robert let an inning-ending pop-up hit him in the head, followed by Adam Eaton’s throw ricocheting off the pitching rubber. David Fletcher scored, and Walsh singled home Rendón in the next at-bat to give the Angels a 2-1 lead in the third inning. Walsh and Fletcher each had two hits.
The White Sox have given up seven unearned runs in three games.
The defense and bullpen will get deserved blame, but the White Sox were also held to three runs for the second time this year. This time, the Sox were stifled by the underwhelming Alex Cobb, who lived in the bottom of the zone. He gave up eight hits, but the White Sox struck out seven times and stranded 16 batters.
The biggest blown opportunity came in the sixth inning when Mercedes hit a go-ahead double, but with two runners in scoring position and no outs, the White Sox failed to add onto a 3-2 lead.
Robert had two hits behind Mercedes, but Andrew Vaughn and Leury García combined for an 0-for-7 showing with four strikeouts at the bottom of the order. They failed to drive in Mercedes, who for the second straight night, stole the show. He captivated Twitter, broke records and gave the White Sox multiple leads.
He hit his first career home run in the second inning for the first run of the game. His one-out single in the fourth inning set the table for Robert’s RBI single, and then Mercedes hit a go-ahead double in the sixth inning.
That’s eight straight hits to start his season.
Mercedes has been phenomenal, which begs the question: Are we sure Mercedes and Trout didn’t have a Freaky Friday situation?
Here’s their Saturday batting lines:
- Mercedes: 3-for-4, 2B, HR, 2 RBI
- Trout: 0-for-3, BB, 3K
Mercedes is the American League MVP through the first three days, but even that wasn’t enough for the White Sox.
On ESPN tomorrow night, Dylan Cease hopes to carry over another strong spring training. The Angels will start two-way sensation Shohei Ohtani. Hannah LaMotta has our coverage for the finale.
A reminder that the MVP voting in the regular season moves to the Six Pack.
Here’s the condensed game, if you missed any of the key action: